Critical Mission Failure
The violent shaking of the Normandy SR-2 woke Garrus from his sleep, the force of the movement almost sending him falling to the floor.
The Normandy did not just shake for no apparent reason.
They had travelled to the outer rim of the Terminus systems, investigating a lost Alliance vessel that had gone missing four weeks ago after picking up an 'artefact'.
That was never a good sign.
However, Shepard had picked up the job as a favour to Admiral Hackett (after they were done repairing the Normandy) hoping to soften up the Alliance for when she slapped them with more information about the Reapers, having told the Illusive Man to go fuck himself not two weeks ago.
It was turning out to be a more complicated mission than they'd planned on.
"Joker, what's going on?" Garrus called to the pilot as he hit his console in the main battery, activating the comms. Bracing himself as another small shake rattled his work space.
"For the love of god people." Joker's exasperated voice yelled back, obviously addressing more than one crewmember at once. "We don't know yet! EDI's looking into it."
Garrus shook his head, grabbed his jacket and pulled it over his head before he made his way out of the battery.
"Do you know what the hell that was Garrus?" Hawthorne asked as he rounded the corner by the main living quarters, various crew members were filtering into the corridor, half-dressed or still in their night wear.
"No one does, I'm going up to prod Joker about it." He replied as the elevator opened, revealing Tali leaning against the wall inside.
"I was finally getting some good sleep too." Tali said to him as he joined her and they continued up to the CIC. "I have a bad feeling about this."
Garrus gave her a nod in agreement. "Anything that can jolt our mass effect field like that is trouble."
They two of them found Shepard in the cockpit still dressed in her sleeping attire, looking over the data EDI was bringing up on the main console. Arms crossed and a frown on her face.
"Oh Keelah." Tali started studying the data intently. "I have never seen anything like that."
"There is a star in the next closest system entering a supernova." EDI explained.
"The real kicker though," Shepard said, her eyes still fixed on the console, "isn't that, it's the fact that it's swimming in dark energy."
"And that's what interfered with our mass effect field." Garrus commented, eyeing the data.
"Exactly." Shepard confirmed. "There is so much dark energy in this thing that it is rippling through the entire cluster. Not just one system."
"I've flown in and back out of the Omega Four relay not two weeks ago, and this is still making me a bit nervous." Joker shifted uncomfortably in the pilot's seat.
"We should all be nervous." Tali added. "It's not just my people who have been investigating this dark energy, I've heard people talking about it on Illium and other planets we've visited as well. No one knows anything substantial about it."
"We need to be out of here sooner rather than later, Commander." Joker said. "We get caught when that thing finally blows and we're in big trouble."
"I agree." Shepard commented finally. "We're going into full alert for the next twenty four hours. Get everyone up and extra crew up here to help monitor this thing, get Legion to help from the AI core as well. EDI, expand your scanning range, we need to find this ship."
She then turned to Garrus and Tali standing just behind her. "Tali, get Daniels and Donnelly and reroute any non-essential power to our kinetic barrier and shields. Garrus." She continued, turning her attention to the turian. "You give them a hand, reroute as much power from the main batteries as possible without completely crippling the guns."
"Then I want you both suited up and on standby as well. Dismissed." She nodded at the two and they all got swiftly to work.
"I've re-calibrated as much power as possible down to you Tali." Garrus informed her through their open comm channel.
"Received." Tali replied back quickly from engineering.
"You are one stingy bastard, Garrus." The turian rolled his eyes at Kenneth's voice blaring from the comm. "Those are some dodgy re-calibrations."
"He's just grumpy because he hasn't gotten any coffee yet, Garrus." Gabby butted in, the sound of a slap resonating around the battery.
"I wouldn't want to leave you with nothing to do for the rest of the day while Tali and I are off having fun." Garrus drawled back to them.
"Speaking of fun." Tali cut back in. "Have you gone up to the armoury yet?"
"I haven't even got my armour on yet." Garrus responded, he'd gone straight back downstairs and started rerouting power down to engineering.
"Does that mean you're naked up there Garrus?" Kenneth blurted out with a laugh. "There's a mental image I didn't need."
He heard Tali start to laugh as another resounding slap echoed from engineering. "Could you please grab my shotgun and pistol from there when you do? This is going to take me a little longer to get everything at full power."
"Can do, see you in a bit."
The mess was a flurry of activity when Garrus re-emerged from the battery. He had narrowly avoided Goldstein - who then collided with one of the girls from navigation, smashing the two cups of coffee she had been carrying right in front of the kitchen area.
He kept moving towards the lift as the smell of burning toast filtered through deck three. That distinct odour of burning he'd smelt from the battery far too many times for his liking.
He hit the button for the elevator, hoping it wouldn't take its own sweet time getting to the deck. One day,one day, he hoped humans, or at least the ones on the Normandy - would learn not to burn things right outside where he damn well lived.
The doors gave a soft beep as they opened. Shepard was standing there, dressed in full armour. "Garrus." She greeted as he stepped in beside her. "Where to?"
"Same here." She hit the button again and the doors closed. "Donnelly is still bitching about you down in engineering by the way." Shepard let a smirk creep onto her face. "There was also something about you doing calibrations naked."
"I cannot be held accountable for how Donnelly may be picturing me from the other side of the comms" His mandibles clicked with small laugh. "How are we doing on the whole, 'find the ship and get the fuck out of here' front?"
"EDI and navigation are still searching; the energy is playing havoc with our syste-."
She swore loudly as the as the Normandy shook abruptly once more, sending her crashing into the wall of the elevator next to Garrus, which came to a stop, the lights turning to a red glow as the shaking continued for a few more seconds.
"You ok, Shepard?" Garrus asked as she pushed herself off the floor and off of him, and into a sitting position on the floor.
"Fantastic." She groaned, putting a hand to the back on her neck "EDI, status report."
"The last wave was more severe than the last, but all systems are stable Commander." EDIs voice echoed in the small space. "It will take me a few more minutes to safely get the lift back online."
"Thanks EDI." She let out an exasperated sigh, feeling the damn impact of where she landed on her face.
Garrus looked at her again, not really being able to see her face clearly in the red light of the lift. "Shepard." He leant forward, reaching out and tilting her face up to get a better look. "You broke your face again." He gave her quick smile as he moved his hand to her forehead, wiping away the blood seeping down to her eyebrow from a new abrasion on her forehead.
To his surprise there was no comeback about his scars, Shepard didn't smack his hand away or make one of her usual self-deprecating jokes about her 'cyberface'. She just looked back at him, a rare expression of uncertainty on her face.
There were so many things they just hadn't had the damn time to talk about.
She slowly took his hand from her forehead and held it in her own. "Garrus, I-"
He tugged at her hand, bringing Shepard out of her own thoughts. "What's wrong?"
She just shook her head. "Nothing, we have bigger problems at the moment." She got to her feet, pulling him up with her.
"When humans say 'nothing' it always means 'something'" He prodded. "If living on the Normandy has taught me anything, at least."
Before she could answer the lights turned back to normal and the lift began to move again. "We've all been run off out feet for weeks, after all this is done - we'll talk." She gave him a quick smile as the doors opened and she took off towards the front of the CIC.
It's going to be a long day. Garrus thought as he watched her go, finally moving out of the elevator and towards the armoury.
The airlock hissed open into the cargo bay of the MSV Khronos. It had taken EDI, Joker, and almost every crew member in navigation almost four hours to locate the vessel in between the dark energy interfering with the Normandy's systems.
They fanned out into the cargo hold, Shepard taking point. Garrus held back, sniper rifle out in front of him. His visor picked up no signs of life, no biotic fields, just the location of several bodies left around the floor. They all read as deceased.
"I have uploaded the ships layout to all team members." EDIs voice buzzed over the silence as they moved towards the door to the rest of the ship.
"Acknowledged, EDI." Shepards voice crackled back. "Looks like they took out every marine on the damn ship."
"It was definitely more than just a regular transport." Tali commented as they moved forward to the doors leading into the rest of the ship. "I've never seen this many officers on any of the other human transport ships we've been on."
Thane motioned to a body towards the back of the bay. "The Blue Suns have taken this ship."
"Their reach appears to be extending beyond the Terminus systems lately." Samara noted.
"I have a feeling they weren't out here just for shits and kicks." Shepard pulled up her omni- tool displaying the ships layout. "Alright, the engineering deck is below, first deck up the stairs."
"Most of the chatter is coming from there." Tali added. "What about the second and third?"
"Very little, they're mostly congregated on the first floor. But, there is a large energy signature as well."
"Most likely artefact." Mordin added. "Blue Suns keeping minimal staff on upper levels. Must think energy is harmful." His omni-tool flared as he scanned above them "Unlikely. Details not mercenarys strong points."
"Alright." Shepard's omni-tool disappeared from her arm. "Tali, you take Mordin, Thane and Samara. Secure the first floor, mine any data from the ship that you can. Garrus and I will head up and secure the artefact"
"Aye, aye commander."
Tali hit the controls for the main door out of the cargo bay. Taking point, she ushered Mordin and Samara behind her. Thane followed behind, replacing his pistol with the sniper rifle on his back. Shepard gave Garrus a nod and they followed close behind, splitting off from Tali and the others at the first floor and heading upwards.
"This is… a bit too easy." Garrus said to Shepard as she cleared out the last merc from the third floor.
"I'm getting that feeling as well." Shepard replied as the moved towards the back of the room. "Tali, status report."
"We almost have the area secured, no problems."
"Good job, keep it up." Shepard replied back, before turning to Garrus once more. "Picking up anything?"
"Whatever's giving off that energy is messing up my readings." He tapped his visor in annoyance.
"Hold back and cover me." She ordered. "Hopefully there won't be any more god damn mercs left."
Garrus took cover behind one of the cargo boxes littered throughout the room. They were definitely looking for something.He thought, watching Shepard do the same, pistol in front of her as she cautiously made her way across the room and towards the corridor at the back.
Her attention snapped over past the doorway as a Blue Suns Commander rounded the corner. Garrus let off rounds from his viper as Shepard tried to use her biotics to push him back so she could take cover once more.
Both of their efforts did nothing. His kinetic barrier barely flickered as they both attacked. Garrus let off more rounds towards the Commander as the merc aimed his gun and fired.
Shepard was in the process of putting up an additional biotic barrier, the shot should have damaged her kinetic barriers - which would have been quickly supplemented by her biotics.
Instead he watched as the fire from the shotgun ripped through her kinetic barriers as her biotics flared, nothing being able to stop the blast from destroying her chestplate, sending her backwards in one quick, bloody explosion of organic and synthetic material from her chest.
Not again. Not. Again.
The Commander turned to his position at the farther end of the room, but as Garrus popped the heat sink in his viper and loaded up another clip, a blinding light emerged from the back of the floor, engulfing the mercenary. He shielded his eyes as the ship shook and crackled around him.
It felt almost instaneous as his body lurched backwards, his world still shaking around him as he landed on something cold, hard, his head pounding. Fuck, I have to get to her. I have to – what if she's - he opened his eyes as everything continued to shake, a familiar red glow telling him exactly where he was.
Back in the main battery of the Normandy.